Happiness Comes in a Men's Dress Shirt
"This may actually be one of the dumbest ideas you've ever had," Ethan groused, glaring at Conner from the passenger seat. "And, by the way, that's saying a lot."
"Come on," Conner scoffed, not taking his eyes from the road. Although his sunglasses weren't really necessary, given the unusually cloudy weather, it was practically a rule that you always had to wear sunglasses when driving a red sports car. "It's called 'taking initiative.' Teachers love it when you do that."
"Yeah, well, 'taking initiative' generally means approaching them after class, not driving down to their house on a Saturday morning to sweet-talk them into raising your paper grade. Especially when your paper sucked," Ethan pointed out.
"Might I remind you that we had two monster attacks this week. Two!" Conner retorted, hitting the blinker and guiding the car onto Valencia Road. "How was I supposed to write a paper on top of all our other work?"
"Somehow, Kira, Trent, and I managed to do it," Ethan replied, rolling his eyes.
Conner snorted. "Yeah, well, let me know when you three are on the varsity soccer team and still finding time to do schoolwork."
"Conner, it was a paper about dinosaurs. Even you should have been able to pull off a B."
"Dr. O should have given us an extension," Conner insisted as they arrived at Tommy's house. "Two monster attacks! But no, it's 'I was a karate instructor and helping out my community when I was a Power Ranger at your age, you just have to learn how to manage your time more wisely.'"
"I still think that seeing him after class would have been better than wasting a perfectly good sleeping opportunity," Ethan shot back, unbuckling his safety belt. "Remind me why I'm here, again?"
"I was going to talk to him, but he practically bolted out of class yesterday. He wouldn't even say what he was in such a rush for," Conner complained. "And you're here to back me up."
Ethan sighed. Now was probably not the time to remind Conner that he had gotten an A+ on the paper. "You don't think Dr. O had… Ranger business, do you?" he asked as they got out of the car, leaving it parked next to Tommy's black Jeep.
"He would have told us," Conner replied, frowning; "but, whatever it was, it looked important."
The two Rangers quickly ascended the steps. Ethan was about to ring the bell when Conner reached around him and, as if he owned the place, simply pushed the door open.
"Conner!" Ethan hissed, shocked. "You can't just walk into someone's house! I really shouldn't have to spell out that this is not the way to make Dr. O sympathetic towards your case."
"Last time we did this, he gave us morphers," Conner muttered back, keeping an eye out for Tommy as they ventured down the narrow hallway.
Ethan rolled his eyes, and decided that Conner had most likely been dropped on his head as a baby. More than once. "Conner kidnapped me," he considered saying to Tommy when the Black Ranger inevitably, and probably literally, kicked them out of his house. "I had nothing to do with this."
Suddenly, Conner stopped dead in his tracks. "Oh, man," he whispered, staring into the kitchen.
"What?" Ethan absently inquired, distracted by some paleontology books on a nearby table.
"Now I know why Dr. O was so eager to leave class yesterday," Conner said, his voice so quiet that Ethan could barely hear it.
"Huh?" the Blue Ranger asked, flipping through one of the books.
There was a pause as Conner turned around, realized that Ethan was completely ignoring him—were those science books?—and rolled his eyes. "Dude," he said, elbowing Ethan, "babe at twelve o'clock."
That caught Ethan's attention. The book was quickly abandoned as he peered over Conner's shoulder and into the kitchen. "Holy shit," he murmured.
A woman was rummaging through Tommy's refrigerator, wearing nothing but a men's dress shirt. Her back was to them and she was currently bending over to put away a carton of juice (a very nice view, both Conner and Ethan thought appraisingly), but they could tell that she was short and slender—the shirt practically reached her knees. She was humming cheerfully.
"Wasn't Dr. O wearing that shirt yesterday?" Conner asked, though it was rather difficult to speak when his mouth was practically scraping the floor.
"Since when has Dr. O been cool?" Ethan demanded, flabbergasted.
"Talk about getting some," Conner murmured appreciatively.
The woman shut the refrigerator door and turned around. Too late, Conner and Ethan realized that they were still gawking… and that their jeans were getting very uncomfortable. They were teenage boys, after all.
The woman's eyes widened in shock when she saw the two Rangers standing there; but just as quickly they narrowed in anger, and she raised her arms in a fighting stance. "All right, you guys have thirty seconds to tell me what you're doing here before I kick both of your asses."
Conner raised an eyebrow. The woman was what, five feet? Maybe a hundred pounds soaking wet? And he was Conner McKnight, the star player on Reefside High's varsity soccer team… not to mention the Red Ranger. It wouldn't be a fair fight.
Trying and failing to smother a grin, Conner lifted his hands in mock surrender and slowly advanced.
"Conner, what are you doing…" Ethan groaned, staying firmly put.
Ignoring the computer geek, Conner flashed his megawatt smile—the kind that made girls fall at his feet (or so he liked to think, firmly denying Kira's assertions to the contrary) and had often gotten him out of trouble. "Hey," he said, throwing in the head nod for good measure. "I was, uh…" It wasn't easy to concentrate when the woman very obviously was not wearing a bra.
"Eyes up here," the woman growled, noticing that Conner's gaze was wandering.
"I'm sorry, he's a Neanderthal," Ethan cut in, knowing that this was going downhill very quickly. "We were just here to see Dr. O—uh, Dr. Oliver. It's about our—no, his—the Neanderthal's, that is—paper grade."
The woman raised an eyebrow. "On a Saturday morning?"
"Sorry," Conner apologized. In what he thought was a highly flattering tone, he added, "I didn't realize that Dr. O had a hot date planned for last night."
Ethan's face and palm suddenly had the pleasure of being rapidly and repeatedly introduced to each other.
"Oh my God, how old are you?" the woman fumed indignantly, planting her hands on her hips. "You…" Suddenly she trailed off, her eyes darting to the band on Conner's wrist. Then her gaze focused in on Ethan, who found his own communicator being targeted by the same scrutiny.
The two Rangers glanced worriedly at each other, wondering if somehow their cover had been blown. The woman was opening her mouth to speak when, from somewhere towards the back of the house, Tommy's voice came floating into the kitchen.
"Hey, beautiful, I'm getting a little lonely back here…"
"Oh. My. God," Ethan squeaked, mortified, as Conner doubled over in silent laughter.
"I really don't want to find a Dear Tommy letter in the kitchen… I've had enough of those, thank you very much…" Tommy continued, completely unaware that his guest was no longer the only other person in his home.
"I really wish I had a video camera," Conner recovered long enough to say.
The woman looked askance at him and raised her voice. "Uh, Tommy?" she called. "You have some visitors. And I think they're the ones you were telling me about."
There was a muffled "Shit!", followed by the sounds of someone running around in a confined space. A moment later, Tommy appeared in the kitchen, glaring fiercely at Conner and Ethan. The two Rangers gaped at him, torn between fear—they could practically feel the anger radiating towards them—and absolute glee. Their mentor's hair was going in a million different directions, and he had a stain that looked suspiciously like pink lipstick smeared across his left cheek. To top it off, he was only wearing boxers and an ill-fitting sweater that really couldn't disguise the fact that he hadn't been able to find his shirt.
If only they had had a video camera, the blackmail opportunities would have been priceless.
"What the hell are you two doing here?" Tommy demanded. Beside him, the woman stifled a grin. "This better be good—and by that, I mean that we better be under attack."
"Conner kidnapped me," Ethan immediately replied, holding his hands up and backing slowly away—like his mother had taught him to do if he ever saw a bear. "I had nothing to do with this."
"Um…" Conner said, edging towards Ethan. "It can, um, wait."
"Yeah, uh, it was nice meeting you," Ethan added, addressing the woman at Tommy's side. He really wanted to ask Dr. O who she was, but he also highly valued his own life. "Sorry about… that."
"Conner McKnight and Ethan James, get back here right now," Tommy growled, halting the two of them in their tracks. "And start explaining."
Conner mumbled something about a paper extension.
Tommy sighed. "Conner, is this about the C minus I gave you on your dinosaur paper? Please tell me you did not interrupt my very quiet, very enjoyable Saturday morning"—he wrapped his arm around the woman's waist, and she smiled up at him in a way that made Conner and Ethan feel even more like the intruders they were—"to try to convince me to raise your grade."
"Um… So, are you two, like, dating?" Conner asked, desperate to change the subject.
Despite how transparent the question was, it made Tommy and the woman pause.
"Are we?" the woman finally inquired, biting her lip.
Tommy didn't hesitate. "We better be," he replied, tightening his hold on her.
"I think we can handle that," the woman answered softly, attempting to conceal her grin.
Conner and Ethan suddenly realized that Tommy was happier than they had ever seen him, that all the lines Mesogog's attacks had etched onto his face were now gone, and that the reason was wearing his shirt.
"Guys," Tommy finally said, remembering that they were there, "I'd like you to meet Kimberly Hart. Kim, Conner and Ethan."
"Sorry about, uh, the way we met you," Conner stammered, an uncharacteristic blush crossing his cheeks.
Kimberly Hart, Ethan thought, frowning. That name sounded familiar.
Then it hit him, and his jaw dropped. "You're the original Pink Ranger!" he blurted out.
Kimberly nodded. "I am," she proudly declared. Conner's eyes were roughly the size of dinner plates. "And I was on the team before 'Dr. O,' might I add." She jokingly nudged Tommy, who didn't seem to mind that she had made the distinction.
Ethan decided that now was not the right moment to ask how Kimberly Hart had wound up at 1992 Valencia Road. "Well, uh," he said, glancing pointedly at Conner, "we should, uh, probably get going."
"Yes," Tommy agreed firmly. "And next time, Conner," he added to the Red Ranger, "I'd advise not using Wikipedia as your only source of information."
Ethan snickered at Conner's chagrined expression. "See you later, Dr. O," he said, giving Tommy a discreet thumbs-up.
"So that was the original Pink Ranger," Conner murmured in awe as he and Ethan left Tommy's kitchen. "Man, I'm so jealous of Dr. O right now."
"Dude, she's his age," Ethan pointed out.
"It's, like, a ten-year difference!" Conner protested. "Kira and Trent are going to flip when they hear this," he swore happily.
As the two Rangers walked down the hallway, Ethan glanced over his shoulder and saw Kimberly leading Tommy back into the bedroom. He shook his head, grinned, and followed Conner out the door.